Presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Jeb Bush got in a slight scuffle over immigration yesterday.
Bush called illegal immigration “an act of love” committed by people wanting to support their families, adding that most of them are here illegally because they can’t get in legally.
This ignited some Republican rage and Rand Paul got his chance to respond:
“You know, I think he might have been more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this,” said Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said on ABC’s This Week. “But I don’t want to say, ‘oh, he’s terrible for saying this.’ If it were me, what I would have said is, ‘people who seek the American dream are not bad people. However, we can’t invite the whole world.’”
Paul’s response was remarkably charitable, perhaps revealing his desire to appeal to a broader base without alienating the one he already has:
“When you say they’re doing an act of love and you don’t follow it up with, ‘but we have to control the border,’ people think, well because they’re doing this for kind reasons that the whole world can come to our country,” Paul added.
Bush’s assertion assumes that the illegal immigrant population only includes good, hard-working people—he ignores those who join gangs and commit further crimes. That’s where Paul has it right. We need to focus on controlling our borders for the sake of American safety, not because we hate the good people.
But Paul should have also addressed Bush’s legality comment.
Even if it doesn’t address the current illegal population, stronger borders coupled with a more efficient legal immigration process could solve many of our future immigration problems.
Why? Because it separates the good guys from the bad ones. The people coming here out of “an act of love” will want to go through the proper legal sanctions. There will be an greater likelihood, then, that the illegal ones have criminal intentions.
As a daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, I have a vested interest in legal immigration. In fact, my grandmother waited years to be reunited with her mother and siblings because the laws at the time wouldn’t permit her, her husband, and seven children to immigrate. As soon as the laws changed, they packed up and headed over from the Cape Verde islands, and legally became Americans.
Republicans shouldn’t just harp on border security – we should also focus on cleaning up the current system. There are 4.4 million people waiting for legal citizenship from our government. When the line is that long, it’s no surprise that good, moral people circumvent the laws for the sake of their families.
Even still, Paul is right. We can’t just let the whole world come in because they have good intentions. Doing so puts the safety of American citizens at risk. Republicans should be debating ways to clear up that 4.4 million-long backlog so more resources can go toward strengthening our borders and dealing with criminal illegals.
Paul and Jeb tie this round.